Monday, 30 October 2006


Her mother couldn’t be wrong. Could she? Even is she were all the women in her family just couldn’t be I the wrong. Could they? Let alone the women in her family, but the women in her village and country! What she’s been taught a girl since childhood is what all the little girls of generations preceding hers were taught and what the coming generations would be taught too. Would she be in the wrong if she taught her daughter the same things? She was starting to think so and that was wrong.

Princess, you and your prince love each other. But life is not all about love. We change; our emotions and feelings do too. Circumstances and time are the culprits. There is nothing you and I can do about it. If you rebel then things wouldn’t turn out right for you, they never do for a Princess. If you chose to swallow your pride then…

This is what they're all told. But what had her mother and the women in her family be exactly telling her? She had absolutely no idea. All she could thing of was the time she and prince would finally be married. What a fool she’d been. She thought she’d be the happiest bride, not unhappy like her mother who was unhappy for reasons she wouldn’t share with her.

Now listening to her friend telling her about her prince’s infidelity filled her with humiliation. She’d been a good wife and an excellent mother to their child. Why? She couldn’t come up with a single explanation. Her friend looked at her reading the thoughts that she knew were running through her head. The questions, the justifications that she’d try to come up with to excuse him, the faults she’d try to find in herself to explain his unfaithfulness, but still the questions and again the questions…

Princess looked at her child, the girl smiled at her mother. Tears filled Princess’ eyes. Her friend squeezed her hand.

If you were Princess (Or Prince if it’d been the other way around), what would you do? Why?

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Thursday, 26 October 2006

Days (and nights) spoiling thoughts

Eid was great. The cake was yummy. Mum made the tastiest food. It tasted even better since we haven't had that much to eat during Ramadan. After a whole day fast, you just don't feel like eating, believe me. But eating a lot on Eid day is a mistake. A great mistake. By 2 a. m. I was sleeping on my feet my brain completely shut. You're supposed to take it easy on the stomach on the first days. We always forget. But this is not what kept me awake yesterday night.

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Its been a week since I've had a good night sleep. I push bed time away and distract myself till I can't take it anymore. I don't get into bed because thats where the thoughts come back, rush in and out and rob me off my sleep. So whats the use of going to bed.

Yesterday night I watched Gangs of New York when everybody else went to bed. It ended around 1.30 a.m. What to do. I picked up “L'épreuve final” by Linda Fairstein where I'd left it. Got bored by 2.45 a.m. I needed to wake up at 6.30 to get ready for work so I had to sleep a bit. I went to wash my face, drank a glass of water, switched off the light and got in bed.

Just one word. Its been haunting me aver since I wrote The Arrival. I might be be speaking and it stops me in mid-sentence. I might be singing under the shower and it makes me turn icy cold. I might be laughing and it suddenly takes away the sweetness of the moment. I start composing a post and my fingers refuse to type. They hover over the same letters on the keyboard.

I find it even more strange since death and eschatology are parts of my daily life. They've never kept me awake like the thought of “I won't be there to write The Exit”.

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Monday, 23 October 2006


Saturday marked the celebration of Divali. We went around the neighbourhood watching the lights lit by our neighbours of Hindu faith. They were beautiful. But with the passing years, it seems like people are lighting them less and less and they don't keep them long. I guess its because life is so dear and electricity costs. Nonetheless, I so wished I had a tripod!

Divali is the Festival of Light. It symbolises, for the Hindu, the victory of truth (light) over ignorance (darkness).

It is one of the most joyous festivals celebrated by the Mauritian hindus in the month of October or November.

Am told that its in the villages that the ights are mst spectacular, there, houses' balconies and yards are decorated with lit “diyas”, small clay lamps instead of the electric blinking lights preffered by the twon people.

The light is believed to guide the goodness of wealth and good fortune.

Tomorow, we are celebrating Eid ul Fitr. More on that later. I've got to go shopping now.

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Monday, 16 October 2006

World Food (Every) Day

World Food Day was proclaimed in 1979 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It marks the date of the founding of FAO in 1945. The aim of the Day is to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. In 1980, the General Assembly endorsed observance of the Day in consideration of the fact that "food is a requisite for human survival and well-being and a fundamental human necessity" (resolution 35/70 of 5 December 1980).

Whenever I sat for Economics tests at school, I used to love throwing in terms like “opportunity cost”, “wrong allocation of resources”; they gave me a sense of importance derived from my (supposed) knowledge of those terms and being able to come up with theories and examples to explain them.

I thought the poor of the world were stupid and lazy people who were poor by their own choice. I thought all they had to do was have less children, meaning less mouths to feed, meaning a little bit more of everything for everyone. I thought it just could not be otherwise since I was having food to throw. I thought I was pretty smart. I was plain ignorant and stupid.

Today, 80% of the natural resources of the planet are controlled and consumed by 20% of the inhabitants of the planet. If this is not disequilibrium, what is?

This disequilibrium, leading to famine and malnutrition, results, says Roger Garaudy (Grandeur et décadences de l'Islam), in the death of 40 million people including 15 million children according to the UNICEF. And its not getting any better.

“In a world overflowing with riches, it is a outrageous scandal that more than
826 million people suffer hunger and malnutrition and that every year over 36
million die of starvation and related causes. We must take urgent action
now.”(Jean Ziegler, April 2001, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food)

Its not a war of figures, with who has the correct figure or who hasn't or a matter of calculating the number of children dying every second. Its a matter of deaths from famine and malnutrition.

The theme for World Food Day and the TeleFood campaign for 2006 is "Investing in agriculture for food security" which highlights the need for increased resources to fight hunger. To whom will the seeds be given? Because, how can undernourished and hungry people be expected to be able to cultivate anything? They'll eat the seeds.

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Links: Facts, Right to Food

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Dear Mum,

I love you, you know that. You've always taken care of us, massaged my scalp with olive oil, made me laugh and cry too sometimes because you made me laugh so hard. Most importantly, you've always been there for us. Held my hand when I needed it the most. Lent me an ear when I needed to shout or listened to my angry silence. I can't thank you enough because the words that may express it all do not exist but you know and that's what matters the most.
Mum, yesterday I watched a movie at work. I had nothing better to do so I inserted this CD I'd been carrying around, removed my shoes, put my feet up and relaxed to enjoy it. I didn't. I could not comprehend it myself, after all, the reason I was watching that movie by myself instead of taking home or all to see was mainly because I wanted to watch it in silence and without speaking. Why then wasn't I enjoying it? Simply because you were not there.
I thought I hated watching TV at home. I thought I resented your constant questions. I felt guilty for ignoring them at times. So it served me right not to enjoy yesterday's movie one bit!

Your Lovely Loving daughter

The letter explained.
Mum does not understand does not understand or speak French, English or Hindi. Watching TV is a problem since its in the languages mentioned. As far as I can remember I've always been an interpreter. To the point that, when we I was a child and fought with anyone they'd mimic me by saying “my mum says” over and over again. That's because that's how all my sentences started when Mum was around. I guess that being the eldest, the task was naturally imparted to me and the siblings who came after me took it for granted that it was my responsibility for life.
I remember I once decided I was not going to play the game anymore and the same day we watched an English futurist movie. It was about some people living in a a desert some thousand years from today and thy had to fight for water. Anyway, all the characters' eyes changed in color depending on their mood. Mum kept asking what was going on and the others assuming it was my role to answer did not acknowledge her questions. As for me, I'd decided enough was enough.
The movie wasn't really great and at the end, the hero found water. My mum had a puzzled expression on her face when I looked at her. “What happened to their eyes?” she asked me. And I felt so very guilty.
But its hard at times. I believe in the fact that everything in life has a purpose. Now, I realize why, as a child to adolescence, I loved reading dictionaries so much. I was unconsciously bettering myself for this role of mine. Its a real challenge I tell you. Hindi movies are the easiest since they don't require a lot of concentration and even if I miss 4 minutes translating the dialog, I'd be able to catch up with the story. American non-dubbed movies and French movies are another story. The good movies where every sentence of the dialog matters I mean. Here is how it goes.
I have to have an idea what it is about to give Mum an introduction first and explain on the CD cove who is who. Because – I curse the Hindi movies for this – Mum associates characters with the music playing in the background. A romantic sounding music and any female character appearing would be the heroine. Hence the importance of the introduction.
Mum relaxes while I try to follow the dialog while translating at the same time. Because when am done translating one part mum immediately asks me to explain what ha just been said which I can't since I was busy explaining the sequence just before that one. I told you, its a real exercise.
So, why couldn't I enjoy my yesterday's movie you'll ask me. Well, I found myself translating it to myself.

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Tuesday, 3 October 2006

A bird in the head

Walking to the bus station I hear footsteps behind me. The street is completely deserted at this time of the day. I clutch my bag against me and hurry a bit. The footsteps behind me seem to quicken their pace too. I slow down, they do too. I can run if it comes to that I tell myself. Am good at running with high heeled shoes. My long skirt would be a problem but I can still raise it up. Planning what to do in case I do need to do something, I momentarily forget the footsteps.

I look right and left still no one. I don't want the footsteps behind me to sense my fear so I don't turn around. But am tall and can take wide steps without seeming to have quickened my pace. I adopt this strategy. I pass through “Le Jardin de La Compagnie”, reach “Paille en Queue” but still don't turn to look. But now its Ok, there are people around here. Its when I finally relax that I realise I'd been holding my breath. A group of girls watch me walking by and I smile. They smile back. But am worried because am starting to scare myself. Am afraid I'd become completely paranoid. Maybe I should forget the pain easing techniques.

I often have abdominal cramps and have mastered some breathing techniques which ease the pain. I'd decided to try and find a pain easing technique for my headaches a while back.

When it pains I can feel it in every part of my body; even my skin seems to hurt. I lay down and stare unseeingly in front of me; that's when am lucky to be home because at work I go around on auto pilot. I have and need to get inside me and concentrate on the pain. I dare it to hurt more and it does. Thud... thud.. thud.. it goes.

I imagine it's my heart I hear pounding in my head. I imagine its my blood I hear pumping in my head.

I tell myself it has to hurt if it stops my heart would too.

I can't cry. That's how bad it hurts.

I try to take my mind off it. The bird trick is my best pain easing technique.

My head is a cage. With a locked door. The key is lost and I can't let the bird out. In my mind's eye, I hear it wailing and flying about the cage only to bump against its sides. Its wings flutter wildly for minutes. It rests the tries again. Again and again. It cannot escape. I squeeze my eyes hard and pray for the cage's door to be open when I open my eyes but when I do, it's still locked. I no longer feel it hurting me, am hurting for the poor bird.

The footsteps I heard on my way back home were no footsteps. It was the pain thudding.

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